The role of the Designer in DDG Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System upgrade

Gary Goetz, DDG Design Engineering Manager, 5 August 2020

Department of Defence

HMAS Hobart conducted sea trails on ships systems before the commencement of their Unit Readiness Evaluation (URE), a vital step to prove the capability of the ship and crew before proceeding on deployment. Photo credit: Department of Defence

The Combat System is one of the most critical major systems in a warship.  SEA4000 Phase 6 has been established to modernise the class to integrate Aegis Baseline 9. The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has built three Hobart Class guided missile destroyers (DDGs) incorporating the United States Navy (USN) Aegis Combat System.

The importance of platform integration.

Whilst a Combat system upgrade, it is also important that the platform integration aspects are also addressed as part of the overall upgrade program.  Fundamental to the effective support of this type of major system upgrade is a thorough understanding of the platform design and operational capability, established from the original design architecture and specifications.  It is important to consider platform growth margins such as weight and weight distribution (that directly relates to ship stability, speed and range), electrical power supply and distribution, and heating and cooling capacity.  As the designer of the Hobart Class, Navantia has this thorough understanding.  Supported with the design heritage for the Hobart Class, Navantia Australia has established a highly skilled, sovereign capability in Australia that is uniquely positioned to support the Navy in the implementation of the Aegis Weapon System Baseline 9 upgrade into the DDGs.

As the design authority for the Hobart Class, Navantia Australia is best placed to identify and clearly understand the extant ship specification requirements in addition to those applicable to the new equipment or system.

During construction, delivery and sustainment of the DDGs, Navantia has provided platform system design and integration services for the three ships of the class.  Over this time, 3D models of the platform and systems along with in-depth analysis and documentation of system interfaces and platform system integration have been developed and maintained.   These provide a critical basis for implementing an upgrade in an efficient manner, and reducing technical and program risks.

Maintaining Design integrity

Maintaining the role of the ship designer for the overall ship integration design assures a holistic view of design integrity through the consistent application of design intent, principles, standards and system specification for the whole of the ship through life.  Navantia considers the principle of maintaining the ship design baseline is essential to maintaining design integrity through life and is uniquely positioned to undertake the responsibility to assure design integrity is preserved through a consistent application of design processes and design baseline data management.

In May 2020, Navantia Australia and the Department of Defence signed a Strategic Agreement, providing a framework to recognise Navantia as the Platform System Design Agent for the Hobart Class.  The Strategic Agreement underpins Navantia Australia’s commitment to the RAN in the provision of engineering services to the Hobart Class.